Flower Tales-Marigolds


“As for marigolds, poppies, hollyhocks, and valorous sunflowers, we shall never have a garden without them, both for their own sake, and for the sake of old-fashioned folks, who used to love them.”  ~ Henry Ward Beecher 



Sadly at this time of the year, and for the next several months (likely through March), there are no flowers growing in my garden.  So I thought during this floral dry spell, I would focus on some of the annuals or tender perennials I like to grow every year.  Most years I grow marigolds, petunias, and violas/pansies from seed, by starting them indoors in winter.  And the borage, sunflowers and nasturtiums I grow, are easily started in my veg garden in late May.  The borage and sunflowers even reseed and appear the next year without me having to plant them again.

IMG_3263So starting this month and each month during winter and late fall, I will be profiling a favorite flower as I link in with Garden Bloggers Bloom Day (GBBD) hosted by Carol@May Dreams Gardens on the 15th of each month.  And I am also linking in with Judith@Lavender Cottage who hosts Mosaic Monday.

I thought I would start with my favorite tender perennial flower (hardy from zones 9 to 11), Tagetes or Marigolds.  Interestingly marigolds are in the aster or sunflower family (Asteraceae or Compositae).  There are over 56 species of annual and perennial Tagetes, native to North and South America.





The common name “marigold” is said to come from the name “Mary’s gold”, which refers to a similar European native plant, Calendula officinalis.   And “Mary’s Gold” refers to when early Christians placed flowers instead of coins on Mary’s altar as an offering. 

The marigold is also called an “herb of the sun” due to its vibrant yellow and gold color.  Other colors of marigolds include orange and mahogany-red or combinations of all three.

The name Tagetes is said to originate with the name of the founding prophet of the Etruscan religion, Tages.




Growing Conditions

The most common varieties of Tagetes are:  African marigolds, Tagetes erecta, although this species is not native toDSCN1600 Africa; French marigolds, Tagetes patula, developed in France, but not native to France; and the signet marigolds which are hybrids of Tagetes tenuifolia.  I grow all 3 of these wonderful marigolds.

Tagetes bloom from late spring through summer, and grow best in rich well-drained soil.  They will adapt to a wide range of conditions, but when you start them keep the soil moist not wet.  My marigolds love to grow in the raised beds where they get regular waterings in organic free draining soil.

Marigolds range in height from 6 to 36 inches, and the blossoms can be up to 5 inches across in some species I grow.  I have heard they will reseed so I plan to leave a few in pots and beds in the future to see if they will reseed for me like sunflowers and borage do.




Folklore and Tales

Some regard the marigold as a love charm, and use them in wedding garlands.

DSCN2289In the Ukraine, Tagetes are regarded as a national symbol.

The marigold is used in the Day of the Dead celebrations in Mexico, and has been since pre-Hispanic times.

The marigold is also widely cultivated in India, Nepal and Thailand, and used in garlands and decorations for festivals and religious events. 

The ancient Welsh used marigolds to predict weather; if they saw the flower closed then bad weather was on the way.

Blooming marigolds are said to encourage happier environments, and sometimes picking marigolds or looking at them for a long time can make someone into a drunkard.

Also it is believed if a couple is having problems, then they should keep a potted marigold.

And the leaves of marigolds have been known to remove warts. 





Marigolds are important for a wildflower garden.  They are food for some Lepidoptera caterpillars and a nectar source for butterflies. I have even seen hummingbirds nectaring at my big pom-pom marigolds.  They are also food for ladybugs, hoverflies and parasitic wasps. DSCN4784

Marigolds are also grown as a cut flower, and used in bouquets and arrangements like mine shown here.

It is also grown in gardens as a companion plant due to its musky scent.  Said to deter some insects and mammal pests like deer and rabbits, it is planted with tomato, eggplant, chili pepper, tobacco, and potato crops. But it should not be planted with legume crops.  I actually plant mine among these very crops, and I am glad I have never planted them with legumes.  Although many believe these to be just tales with no scientific proof.

Because the florets of Tagetes erecta are rich in the orange-yellow carotenoid lutein, it is used as a food coloring for many foods in Europe.  But in the United States, it is only approved as colorants in poultry feed.  Marigolds are also fed to chickens in Mexico as it colors the eggs yellow.

Marigold blossoms are edible for humans too.

The blossoms also make a yellow dye for fabric.




Language of Flowers

Marigolds have a rather negative meaning; some include cruelty, grief, despair, jealousy and uneasiness.  But on the positive side it can also mean to show strong passion, due to its association with the brave and courageous lion. There is also a Victorian meaning; desire for riches.  





Do you grow marigolds?  What are your favorite flowers to grow from seed?



In A Vase On Monday


Now I know I said there are no flowers here this time of year, but who would have thought our first killing frost would hold off until the middle of November.  But we finally saw a bit of snow and there was a freeze this weekend so I picked the rest of the flowers and brought them in.  And yes roses were the stars again this week in the vase.

As I arrange the vases on this GBBD, you can see the few flowers I still have blooming here.  As I do every Monday (or before Monday sometimes), I wander the garden looking for what flowers, foliage and plant material might make for a lovely vase to bring indoors.   Cathy@Rambling in the Garden hosts this wonderful meme, In a Vase on Monday.   I am also linking in with Today’s Flowers hosted by Denise@An English Girl Rambles.


nov rosesThis first vase shines with variegated weigela foliage.  There was one yellow and one pink Knockout rose, fairy roses and borage to add to it.  I love the simple look. 




nov roses vaseHere are a few more views.  I didn’t think I would like borage in a vase, but I really love it with the roses. 




more roses vase

And of course there were still loads of fairy roses to pick and bring in for another vase.  Here I chose the round vase and filled it with the green gray foliage from ‘Walker’s Low’ catmint.  I also gathered more lavender still blooming, a few yellow scabiosa blooms, borage, anemone and a lone Veronica or Speedwell bloom.  

So this will be it for the flowers this year.  Now I will be looking for seedheads, foliage, berries, twigs and other assorted garden material to fill vases until the ground is completely covered in snow.  That may be sooner than I think, I fear.



Next up on the blog:  

Wednesday I will have a fun Stuck Foot post.  And next Monday it will be time for a Garden Book Review.  


I am also joining in I Heart Macro with Laura@Shine The Divine that happens every Saturday.

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